Monday, July 11, 2011

Race for Life 5K (UK Style)

My fabulously gorgeous and super amazing friend JennyJ agreed to share a little about her training for her first half marathon and a race she participated in this past weekend. I've talked about her before, so here's your chance to see for yourself how remarkable she is! Make sure you check her blog here too!

Hello all. B has asked me to guest-blog while she’s away and of course I said a big fat YES to that. She’s been a tremendous inspiration when it comes to running and this is the least I can do to pay her back. 

People delight in other people’s mishaps, catastrophes and outright failures, don’t they? I don’t mean that in a horrible way but there’s something comforting about knowing that those kinds of things don’t just happen to you. And as our B is so wickedly good at whatever she does, I thought I’d tell you a bit about my past week – which did not go at all as I had hoped. 

Although I’m currently training for my first half-marathon (the Run to the Beat Half-Marathon on September 25th in London), I thought I’d mix up my training a bit and sign up for the Race for Life 5k. This event is huge in the UK and takes place from late spring all through the summer. It’s a women’s only race that raises huge amounts of money for Cancer Research UK. Last year’s was my very first race and I thought I’d give it a go again and try to beat last year’s time as well as participate in a great event and have some fun doing it, while giving cancer the proverbial finger.

As ever, things didn’t go as expected. My long run the previous weekend consisted of eight miles. This was the very first time I’d ever run that distance – and my body felt it. Instead of going straight for a nap as soon as I finished (and really wanted to!!!), I gave in to my overly active boyfriend and went on an exploration tour of the surrounding villages (FYI, Royston, England, NOT worth a visit….). I had already signed up for a three-hour yoga workshop Sunday morning and was actually quite looking forward to a good ole’ stretch. And stretched I was. I then went out again with above-named overly active boyfriend for a game of tennis in sweltering heat and finally collapsed in our hammock around 5pm that afternoon. Monday and Tuesday I could barely walk, but I figured no pain, no gain, right?! Wednesday I had a Pilates class and Thursday I went out for an ‘easy’ 3-mile run. I suppose that wasn’t a great idea as my legs were feeling seriously leaden – again! So, after seeking advice from my virtual running buddies (on Facebook), I decided to take it easy for the rest of the week to be ready for Sunday.

Aside from refusing my body the adequate rest it so obviously needed, I still prepped sufficiently in all other areas, having made sure that my new running outfit was bought and laid out in time for the race. After all, if you’re gonna get all hot and sweaty, better make sure you look stylish doing so, right?! 

But, alas, even with the new outfit it wasn’t meant to be. I woke up to a bright blue sky and sunshine, in itself not a bad thing, but not in July where even in England it can get quite hot. Yet again, the MET was wrong when it predicted an overcast day (perfect race-day weather) and instead the temperature kept rising steadily. Lathered in sunscreen, I made it to the start line and upon setting off my woes began. While people were passing left, right and center, I kept getting the one slow person in front of me I just couldn’t overtake. After my first k I was suddenly parched. I never take water on my short runs as I’m usually ok until I get home, even on hot days. But go figure, the one time I do need it is on race day. We ran straight through town and there wasn’t a breeze in sight. Although I still ran faster than I usually do in training, I just couldn’t quite make my target time (perhaps, with hindsight, a bit over-optimistic?!). I stepped it up during my last k and a half, but again, I just wasn’t able to push myself to reach the pace I wanted. Growing ever more frustrated with my lack of performance probably didn’t help either. At 4.5k I suddenly realized that if I really pushed for it, I could still manage my goal time but at that point we entered the green and went from running on a paved surface to uneven lawn. Oh yes, and the wind picked up. You need to understand that Cambridge is incredibly flat. So when the wind blows, it’s more like a gale! What I wanted was a breeze, what I got was a storm, and not helpfully blowing in my back, but rather at my left, making the last 500m feel even longer as I now had to run with a tilt. Worst of all, as soon as I entered the green, I could see the finish line. But in the worst tease ever, I had to round the green along its far edge before doubling back on myself and making it to the finish, i.e. getting closer, closer, closer, passing it, going further and further away, before turning a corner and finally aiming straight at it. NOT nice! Unfortunately I just didn’t have it in me. And despite some lovely cheers by a friend (who had finished five whooping minutes before me!!!) and a last-minute push, my sprint-finish just didn’t materialize and I only finished the race 20 seconds faster than I did last year. So still a success but not the earth-shattering PB I had envisioned. 

But it’s all good. Because look what I got out of it: THE action shot of the year!!! J A friend of mine pointed this out to me, it was posted on our local paper’s website. I’m personally chuffed (oh what a British word!) by it, particularly by the swinging pony tail. Never seen myself in action. Ok, jokes aside, it wasn’t a race as I’d hoped but it was still good and I have to learn that sometimes I just have to chill out and not push myself too much. At the end of the day I’m still a newbie to running, having been clocking up the miles for only the past 16 months. So for that, methinks, it ain’t half bad. 

And now… well, it’s exactly 12 weeks til the half marathon, but don’t fret. The outfit planning is well into its second stage: my charity’s color is orange, so I gotta make sure I match (and not just with the color of my face!). 
JennyJ in a sea of pink!

Love, peace and Zen to you all,  JenJx

p.s. Thanks for reading. Please visit my page and maybe even sponsor me, I’d much, much appreciate it! ( 
p.p.s. I actually do train properly for the half-marathon, it’s not just all fun and games and shopping. So feel free to check out my blog at Run, Raise, Race! to see for yourself. (

Hope you enjoyed Jen's tale and positive attitude even when a race didn't turn out as expected. Looks like I'm not the only one who runs for the accessories either!

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